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Rediff.com  » Sports » Miami Masters PHOTOS: Serena, Sharapova on collision course; Nadal advances

Miami Masters PHOTOS: Serena, Sharapova on collision course; Nadal advances

March 25, 2014 08:58 IST

Miami Masters PHOTOS: Serena, Sharapova on collision course; Nadal advances

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Six-time Miami champion Serena Williams and five-time runner-up Maria Sharapova remained on another Sony Open collision course after each recorded fourth-round wins on Monday.

While Williams and Sharapova clashed in last year's final there will be no championship rematch on Saturday at CrandonPark with the American and Russian on the same side of the draw and closing in on a semi-final showdown.

After getting her title defence off to a slow start World No 1 Williams, who lives an hour's drive from the Crandon Park Tennis Center and considers the event her home tournament, stepped it up a gear against Coco Vandeweghe sweeping past the young American qualifier 6-3, 6-1 in 79 minutes.


Image: Maria Sharapova, left and Serena Williams
Photographs: Al Bello/Getty Images and Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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'Going into the match I knew I could only do better'

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"I was definitely happier today," Williams said. "I was really struggling my first two matches, so I just wanted to have a better performance today.

"Going into the match I knew I could only do better. That kind of helped out, too."

Williams, a minority owner of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins, once again stepped onto the court dressed in her team's turquoise and orange colours and kicked off the match by claiming the only break of the opening set for the early lead.


Image: Serena Williams reacts during her match
Photographs: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

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'I'm in a better mood now'

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In the second set, Williams simply blitzed Vandeweghe, overpowering the 22-year-old who managed to hold her serve just once against the 17-times grand slam winner.

"It doesn't feel great (playing bad tennis)," said Williams. "That also gave me confidence to know if I'm winning these matches when I'm playing some of the worst tennis I have personally played in the past couple of years, then, you know, it gave me a lot of hope.

"I'm in a better mood now. It was impossible for me to be in a good mood after I played those last matches."


Image: Serena Williams hits a forehand
Photographs: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

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Sharapova got a wake-up call

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Fourth seed Sharapova got a much-needed wake-up call after sleep-walking her way through the opening set before dispatching Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Sharapova, playing the first match of the day on a drowsy and overcast centre court, appeared to have trouble getting up for her fourth-round contest, as did many of the ticket holders with only a few hundred spectators sprinkled across the quiet stadium as play began.

"I started off ... probably looked like it was too early," Sharapova told reporters. "I usually like playing first match on, but I didn't start off the way I wanted to.

"Nothing was working. Just the way it went in the beginning."


Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Sharapova weathered the storm

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Flipkens certainly came ready to play and broke a misfiring Sharapova at the first opportunity and again to go up 4-0 with the help of back-to-back double faults from the Russian.

In the second set, a suddenly alert and focused Sharapova turned the tables on the 19th seeded Belgian as she raced in front 4-0 on a pair of breaks on way to leveling the match.

Trailing 3-1 in the third set, Flipkens had a glorious opportunity to get back into the contest after going up 0-40 on Sharapova's serve but was unable to convert on any of her four break chances.

Sharapova weathered the storm then closed out the match by sweeping the next two games to reach the last eight.

"You want to be able to hold the winner's trophy, but you also know the matches that you got through to get in the position to get to the final stage," said Sharapova. "I had my opportunities.

"It's not like I didn't have my opportunities in those finals. I just didn't take them."

Former World No 1 and 12th seed Ana Ivanovic seemed headed for a quarter-final berth after comfortably taking the first set against eighth seed Czech Petra Kvitova but fell apart after that, committing 11 double faults en route to a stunning 3-6, 6-0, 6-0 loss.


Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia serves
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Ruthless Nadal continues Miami rampage

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World No 1 Rafael Nadal continued his ruthless rampage through the Sony Open on Monday, crushing Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-0 to reach the fourth round at Crandon Park.

Nadal, who has reached the final three times but never lifted the Miami title, blew past Lleyton Hewitt in the second round before overwhelming Istomin in less than an hour in a centre court master class.

Next up for the Spaniard is a fourth round meeting on Tuesday with Italian 14th seed Fabio Fognini, who advanced with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 comeback win over Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut.

Further down the road is a possible semi-final meeting with third seed Wawrinka, who beat the Spaniard in the final of the Australian Open to claim his first Grand Slam title.


Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain serves against Denis Istomin of Uzebekistan
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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'I played a very complete match'

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Nadal has shown no signs of losing focus, however, and broke Istomin twice to open the match and grab a 4-0 lead.

The 57th ranked Istomin finally held serve at 4-1 but that would be the only time as Nadal thundered through the next eight game to complete the rout.

"I played a very complete match," said Nadal, who was given a warning for slow play. "No match is perfect but I did a lot of things very well. No mistakes, serving with good percentage, and playing a lot of winners.

"My movements were better than what I did last event events. That's a very important thing for me."


Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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'I am just doing my job'

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Also through to the next round is Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who looked sharp in a no-nonsense 7-5, 6-4 win over Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Wawrinka, who has admitted to suffering something of a grand slam hangover, has already matched his best effort in six visits to Miami. His win set up a last 16 meeting with Ukraine's Alexander Dolgopolov, a 3-6, 6-0, 7-6(5) winner over Serb Dusan Lajovic.

"I am just doing my job. Simple," said Wawrinka. "My job is to play tennis, try to play the best possible, and to do that I have to practice well.

"People are expecting more from me but from myself it's the same. The pressure is same. I always put a lot of pressure on myself and always want to win matches and play well."


Image: Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland returns a shot
Photographs: Al Bello/Getty Images

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Raonic cruises into last 16

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Canadian 12th seed Milos Raonic blasted his way into the fourth round with 6-1, 6-2 win over Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 56 minutes.

Raonic, who exited the Miami tournament in the third round with injuries the last two years, has had no fitness concerns this year, firing 10 aces and surrendering just five points on his serve to Garcia-Lopez.


Image: Milos Raonic of Canada hits a return
Photographs: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

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